Defense More Valuable Than Goalie?

There’s a saying in hockey “you’re only as good as your goalie.” The logic is simple and it makes sense. The team with the least amount of goals allowed (presumably by the best goalie) will win the most games.
Turns out, that’s not really the case. Using the 2017 Hockey East season as the sample size it is evident that the old adage is false. When looking at save percentage (SV%), one of the major goaltending categories and the overall league standings the there is not a direct correlation to goaltender success (strong save percentage) and a team finishing high in the standings.\

Save PercentageGraphic one displays the goaltenders and their SV% accumulated over the course of the 2017 season. Merrimack’s Collin Delia and UConn’s Adam Huska both finished with an identical (and impressive) .928 SV%.
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Graphic two shows the league standings. Umass Lowell, Boston University, and Boston College finished in a three-way tie for first place. BU’s Jake Oettinger finished 4th in SV%, BC’s Joesph Woll came in 5th and Lowell’s Tyler Wall finished 7th.

Judging from the data, teams don’t need to have the best goalie to win. A statistically middle of the pack goalie will suffice.

Scoring DefenseThe team stat of “Scoring Defense” (Graphic 3) or the total goals allowed per game better resembles how a team will perform in the league standings. Defense has the ability to prevent shots or force teams into taking lesser percentage shots. This intern makes life easier for the goalie.

So, the saying should probably go something like “teams are only as good as their defense.”

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